Beware Of “Ghost Jobs” When You Are Job Hunting

ghost jobs

In a remarkably competitive labor market, many job seekers are struggling because they are qualified candidates, yet they don’t hear anything back. With a labor shortage and economic uncertainty, these job seekers are confused as to why they aren’t even getting an interview.

Business Insider recently wrote an article explaining why some companies don’t respond to job applicants and the reason may surprise you. Many companies are posting “ghost jobs”. A“ghost job” is not a real job opening as the company doesn’t actually plan to hire anyone. Therefore, if you are currently applying for jobs, you should be careful about how much time you are spending on completing and submitting job applications. By now, you know here at, Your College Sensei, I’m all about efficiency. Applying for a job where there is no intent to fill the position is a big waste of time.

Companies Like To Have Resumes On File

The numbers when is comes to “ghost jobs” are staggering. According to a recent survey, 40% of managers have had a job posting open for over two to three months. One in five managers said they don’t plan to fill their current open job positions until 2023. And 50% of managers said they keep job postings up because they are “always open to new people,” even if they are not actively recruiting.

Why would hiring managers choose to do this? It’s because these hiring managers keep the applications and keep your resume on file. In the US, companies are legally required to keep applications and resumes on file to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws.

However, hiring managers, like the 50% of managers surveyed, want you to apply so that they can legally keep your resume on file. This allows companies to maintain a database of backup resumes which can be especially helpful if a position becomes available in the future with short notice and they need to fill it quickly. Therefore, if you receive an email from a company saying, “we will keep your application on file”, this may not mean that they think you might be a good fit for the company if a different job position opens up it simply means they legally have to keep it on file.

Why Didn’t You Get The Job

LinkedIn News shared a story titled, “Didn’t get the job? Was it fake?”. Professionals in Human Resources on LinkedIn called the practice of posting job positions that you don’t intend to fill the position shameful and immoral. The practice isn’t new, companies have been doing it for various reasons for decades. Even reputable employers have participated in this practice. But many applicants have been completely unaware.

What You Should Do

I am not sharing this information to discourage you from applying for a job, but instead to offer you guidance on what you should do if you’re currently seeking new opportunities. Don’t spend too much time completing one job application and attempting to make it perfect. Instead, look for open job postings and try to apply to as many as possible.

Streamline The Application Process

There are several ways for you to streamline the application process. First, update your resume and do not include a date on it so that it can be easily attached to your applications. Create a document that contains all the extra information that applications ask for that isn’t included on your resume. Things such as addresses of former employers, phone numbers of employers, and contact information for personal references. Each time you encounter a new question on an application that you haven’t included on that master document, add it to the document in case you need the answer again later.

I have seen job applications that have asked for up to 10 years of former addresses. They have even asked for the dates that you lived at each address. If you have moved around a lot, this is not going to be easy information to recall. Therefore, it might be helpful to keep a list of your previous addresses. This master list will enable you to copy and paste the information into each application quickly. This will make the information easy to find and not require much energy. If you take this approach to apply for jobs, you will increase the jobs you’re applying to.

Save Time When Applying For A Job

By streamlining the application process, you will save a lot of time. Another way to save time is don’t begin researching a company’s values and mottos and historic information until you land the interview. I’m a big promoter of doing company research before an interview because it allows you to be prepared and familiar with the company while you are talking to the interviewer. However, do not conduct this research until you have scheduled an interview with the company. If you do you’ll drown in company information that may not be necessary to know.

Do Not Get Discouraged By No Response

There’s no way for an applicant to know that an employer isn’t intending to hire for the job position they have posteda “ghost position”. Therefore, if you apply to several jobs and you don’t receive a response, don’t get discouraged. You could have the perfect resume, exceed the qualifications, and be the ideal candidate, but if the company you apply to doesn’t have the intention to hire anyone, they will not respond to you. So, keep applying for the jobs that you want. In the long run, you will get an interview.

college student networking for a job

Reach Out To Your Network

At 19, I graduated with my BS in Business and I began applying to every position I could. I used my network and let them know I had graduated and was looking for a job. It was through my network that I learned about the position at a Fortune 500 company. I was able to land an interview and then the job. A person in my network was solely responsible for informing me about a job that wasn’t even posted yet.

I have written about the importance of reaching out to your network before in, How To Get An Entry-Level Job With No Experience. Never underestimate the power of networking. Your network, whether it’s professional, personal, or academic can help you build skills, gain experience, and get a job. While you are still a college student take the time to build your network. It’s never too early. Create a LinkedIn account and connect with individuals in the industry. Be sure to read, The Complete LinkedIn Workshop for College Students.

Additionally, your network may be able to connect you to a possible employer, they may know when a job opening will happen, or they can give you insight into the industry. Studies show that 70-80% of jobs are never advertised. How are these positions filled? Through networking. If your professional network knows of a company that is actively looking for qualified candidates, then this opportunity is not likely to be a “ghost job”. If you build a good enough network while you’re in college when you graduate all you have to do is reach out to them and someone may be able to recommend a job position—and you’re in.